No, Derek Jeter should not think about retiring. Just so we’re clear on that.
Jason Keidel, though, argues that the Yankee shortstop is at the end of the line:
Father Time is finally throwing Jeter some serious chin music, snapping his ankle in October, and then taunting him back to practice before chipping it again. But Jeter is the Bernard Hopkins of baseball, swinging until he’s literally carted off. The Yankees surely hope he makes that decision before they have to.
Jeter turns 39 at the end of June, but 2012 was his best offensive showing since 2009. Let’s start with a couple traditional stats: he hit 15 home runs (most since 18 in ’09) and scored 99 runs (most since 111 in ’10). Going by Sabermetric stats, his .347 wOBA was his best since .385 in ’09 and his 3.1 FanGraphs WAR was the most since 6.8 in ’09.
Keidel challenges readers to find “one shortstop in the modern era who produced at 39.” It is kind of a loaded challenge, but let’s play nevertheless. According to Baseball Reference, there have been ten player-seasons since 1901 where a shortstop posted 2.0 (average) WAR or better at the age of 39 or older: four of them belong to Honus Wagner (1913-16), three to Luke Appling (1946-47, ’49), and one each to Luis Aparicio (1973), Ozzie Smith (1994), and Omar Vizquel (2.9). So, yeah, kind of rare.
But if you lower the age threshold to 38, an interesting name appears on the list: Derek Jeter. Had the injury occurred last year, I have a feeling Keidel would have asked the very same question, only about 38-year-old shortstops. Clearly, Jeter is not the dominant player of the early and mid-2000’s, but is still as good as or better than many of his contemporaries to whom he has seniority by as many as 15 years. Jeter is one of the last players I’d think about writing off.